LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and a group dedicated to helping victims overcome their abusers had a vigil on Thursday honoring those who lost their lives and those who escaped domestic violence.
Domestic abuse is not just physical—it is verbal, mental, and financial. The purpose of the vigil was to try and remove some of the stigmas that can be associated with breaking out of the cycle of abuse.
“Sometimes we don’t even want to share with our family and friends because it’s embarrassing to us,” said Linda Perez, CEO of The Shade Tree. “How did I get into this situation?”
Names of lives lost in Nevada to domestic abuse were read out loud. A number of people showed support for both the lives cut short and those who survived.
“A survivor is me,” said Perez. “A survivor is one in four women. A survivor is anybody who makes that choice to take their life back.”
“One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do was forgive someone who wasn’t sorry,” said Natalie Harmon, a survivor. “But I can tell you that when I finally did, I found a peace I never knew. And tonight, I pray that for each and every one of you.”
Domestic violence has increased over the last year because of the frustrations brought forward during the pandemic.
According to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, murders involving domestic violence, abuse or neglect have gone up about 70% this year.
“There was a loss of income,” said Perez. “There were now children in their home, not at school any longer, and you have that family unit all together. And there’s already abuse? You’re looking at increases in numbers.”
She expects that increase to continue as more children become exposed and desensitized to it.
“The chances of a child growing up in a domestic violence home is almost 80% that they will either be a victim or an abuser,” she said. “So, when we say we want to break the cycle in our families, it’s exactly that.”
And the only way to address it is to speak up and realize it is not normal.
“We have to talk about it,” she said. “Because it affects every single family.”
You can call the Shade Tree’s crisis hotline for help escaping from an abusive situation at (855) 385-0072.